From Brandreth’s Pills to the Black Death

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Over the festive season, two documentaries were broadcast which drew upon the resources of the Wellcome Library.

On BBC Radio 4, Brandreth’s Pills told the story of Benjamin Brandreth, a pioneering patent remedy salesman of the nineteenth century.

Brandreth’s Vegetable Pills earned their creator a fortune, and the documentary investigated Brandreth’s ground-breaking marketing techniques. It also featured William Schupbach, Curator, Paintings, Prints and Drawings, Wellcome Library, discussing the testimonials included in Brandreth’s publication The Doctrine of Purgation.

The concluding part of Man on Earth, Channel 4’s series on how changes in climate have affected humans throughout history, aired on 28th December. To illustrate the effects of the Black Death on the population of Europe, presenter Tony Robinson was filmed in the Library’s Reading Room, quoting from relevant works in our collection. The episode is available from the Channel 4 website.

Ross Macfarlane

Ross Macfarlane is the Research Engagement Officer at the Wellcome Library.

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